Being an Indie Musician

Have you ever been in love? The kind that’s intense and desperate and at times upon reflection, a bit pathetic or laughable? Maybe it’s less Love and more a massive crush or just lust. TFW you’re so into a person, but they’re elusive – he or she doesn’t readily pay attention to you, which makes them all the more alluring. And when they do grace you with their divine gaze, you’re overwhelmed with grateful excitement and you start planning your wedding and future thereafter.  Yeah. That’s kinda what it’s like to be an indie musician. At least for me.

The industry is a fickle love interest playing hard-to-get and I am the eager, overly affectionate fool who continues to chase her. I make music because I love to. And because I can’t help it – trust me, I tried. I tried to quit, to get real, to have a regular day job making lots of money. I succeeded in meeting many challenging goals along the way, but I never succeeded in leaving music behind. So, left choiceless, I’ve returned again and again to the pursuit of some semblance of success in what I love most. That means I had to somehow learn to treat my love like a business.

Now, I may be able to solve some heavy trig equations in a snap (or at least I could back in school – plz don’t quiz me), but I’ve never been creative AT ALL when it comes to “putting myself out there.” Like I said: I’m not a “cool kid.” I only know how to make and do stuff. I don’t know how to SELL it. I’ve never made something that went viral, I don’t have the time or the capacity to make YouTube videos every day or week, and I never mastered the art of Persona. Turns out, all I know how to be is Me. So where does that leave me?

On any given day, I spend chunks of time doing any or all of the following:


  • Tweeting

  • Working out

  • Making To-Do Lists

  • Wondering where my life is going

  • Updating my site

  • Submitting music to labels/industry execs

  • Applying for show opportunities

  • Looking for/rsvp’ing for networking events

  • Following up on music-related emails

  • Responding to social media friends/fans

  • Updating/Curating my EPKs

  • Watching The Lonely Island videos

  • Tweeting

  • Designing performance outfits/costumes

  • Watching more Lonely Island Videos

  • Making up Lonely Island-esque rap songs and recording them on my phone

  • Writing songs

  • Recording songs

  • Fighting with technology that enables me to record said music

  • Checking things off on my To-Do List

  • Wondering if I’m any closer to my life goals now that said things have been checked off said List

   
producer life

In my little studio

 

 

To summarize, “independent” really means independent. Artists like me are often their own Life Coach, Social Media Manager, Communications Manager, Marketing Manager, PR Agent, and Career Lead – in addition to, of course, being the creator of their product. Sure, there are absolutely indie artists out there who have a team, but often (at least in my experience) that team must be hired. Sometimes one gets lucky and an angel appears, who happens to love their music, and wants to help share that music with the world. Some get even luckier when that angel has connections and/or can provide funding for all the steps and aspects of making and distributing music. I’ve had exactly 1 free-of-charge angel in my years of making music, and a few paid team members – and I’ve learned from those experiences that you have to keep working on your own, no matter what you think someone else can do for you. I’ve also been on a label for one release, but well…that’s another post altogether.

So thus far, it’s been me plugging on, making music and trying to share it with the world. The thing that’s kept it from getting old is that I know I can always become a better musician than I am. And there’s always something to fine tune when finding the line between what I hear in my head and what an audience desires – what will be commercially successful. There’s always a hard-to-strike balance between remaining faithful and authentic to the original piece I “download,” complete in my mind, and the finished product that comes out of the studio. This, I think, could keep me busy forever, and so provides a welcome distraction from the drudgery of the business of making music.

Actually now that I read that last paragraph again I feel like it’s at least partially bullshit. It doesn’t get old because it can’t. I don’t choose to make music – it chose me. And, I have something to say; simple as that. As long as I need to keep saying things, I’ll keep building vehicles for expression, otherwise known as songs, until the day I die.

[You can hear my last release, where I sing about being a woman in entertainment & the business thereof, HERE.]